FILE PHOTO: A Johnson & Johnson building is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
(Reuters) – Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) fell over 6 percent on Friday, on track to post their biggest percentage drop in more than a decade, after Reuters reported that the pharma major knew that its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. The decline in shares wiped off about $24 billion from the company’s market capitalization and made the stock the biggest drag on the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI and S&P 500 .SPX indexes.
J&J was found to have known about the presence of small amounts of asbestos in its products from as early as 1971, a Reuters examination of company memos, internal reports and other confidential documents showed.
Reuters report also showed the company had commissioned and paid for studies conducted on its Baby Powder franchise and hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article that presented the findings in a journal.
J&J has been battling some 6,000 cases claiming its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products cause ovarian cancer. The products have also been linked with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that affects the delicate tissue that lines body cavities.
Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli